I have always been big on making a plan for writing and up until now the students have done this on a piece of paper. This has not always been successful. My students love working on their i-pads so I wanted to generate an exciting new plan with cool visuals to inspire them to write amazing stories.
I started with a narrative plan as my learners have always liked creating their own stories around fantasy and make-believe. The first attempt worked well but I knew I could make the plans better.
I knew I would need to generate 2 plans as I have 2 writing groups within my class. One plan would need a more formal structure and one would need voice instructions and a simple format to get them started.
Next we had a class discussion on what we would like to write about. The girls and boys had different opinions....of course. So we decided on the setting. Castles. That way the boys could write about knights and dragons and the girls could write about princesses and witches etc.
The first slide of their plan was to draw their character or characters. I placed some visuals around the outside of the slide to give them some inspiration.
After drawing their character they had to write some key words describing their character.
As a class we all googled castles and each student was allowed to chose the castle of their choice and insert this image into their slide.
They then had to write some key words describing their castle.
Once again I inserted some images around the outside of their plan to give them some ideas. These images were deleted once their own image was uploaded.
All good narratives have a problem or event that occurs. The students then had to sit down and come up with such an event and how they were going to solve this. This was probably the trickiest part and needed lots of scaffolding. I encouraged them to keep it simple and in the context of their setting.
This slide was to guide them through the process of writing a narrative. We wrote a story together first and I modelled what I wanted from them.
Many of my students even my top writers start each sentence with 'and then' so I wanted to provide them some different sentence starters. They did not have to use these but I found that most did.
So did it work? I can say with a huge smile on my face that I was over joyed with the results. Spending time going through the process of writing a narrative and giving the students some freedom to create their own character, and chose their own setting got them excited to tell a story. I noticed a real change in their attitude to writing. For once there was an eerie silence that fell over my class when it came to writing their stories into their writing books. Below is a story from one of my top writers in the class.
The first and second slide were just the same for 'character' and 'setting' but using garage band I inserted a voice over explaining what they had to do. The third slide was to come up with one event.
The voice instructions for this slide tell the students to think of something exciting that could happen to their character. Once again this was where I was needed to help them get their thoughts down. I encouraged them to go away and record what they wanted to happen and then we sat and wrote it down as simply as possible.
This is the simple writing plan for my second group. Their goal was to write 3 great sentences using the gifted words we had written down together. Each voice instruction tells them what is required in each sentence.
Once again I was blown away with the results. Garageband has been my life saver. Having the ability to record my instructions has given my students who struggle to work independently, the freedom to know exactly what they should be doing. Each student in my class has a set of head phones so there is no problem with hearing my voice booming over the classroom. These students are generally the ones who need my constant supervision to stay on task. Once again I could hear a pin drop when it came to writing their stories. Below is a piece of writing from a student who has struggled with writing all year.
Of course there are still things I could do better and I will continue to tweak my templates so they work even better for my learners. The idea is to scaffold less and less with each group. We will continue to have fun with narratives until the end of term and then I am going to concentrate on writing Recounts in term 4. So my next goal is to create a recount template over the holidays.